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Supply Chain, Inflation Woes Ease, but Labor Issues Remain

Stephen Greathouse/Informa Markets 2022 PSP/Deck Expo Keynote Panel
Pictured from left to right: Tarvin, McDermott, Arani, Jackson, Roetken
Executives told attendees during the keynote address at the International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo™, co-located with Deck Expo this week that 2023 will be robust, but not like the last few years.

The pool, spa and decking industries are coming off several extraordinary years due to the pandemic and other factors, and although business will not be as robust in 2023, it will be “normal,” industry executives said during the keynote address this week at the International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo™, co-located with Deck Expo in Las Vegas.

“Business will not be at ‘21-‘22 levels, but it will be at the 2018-2019 level,” said Dave Jackson, CEO of Jacuzzi.

“I am encouraged about next year. It will be more normal,” added Landon Tarvin, vice president of Deckorators.

In addition to Jackson and Tarvin, the panel included Rick Roetken, president, the Americas, Hayward Industries; Matt McDermott, president, Heritage Family of Companies; and Ardy Arani, CEO, Big Green Egg. Bruce Porter, founder of SWAT Marketing Solutions and a former Hayward employee, was the moderator.

All the panelists said that supply chain issues have eased since the beginning of 2022.

Stephen Greathouse/Informa MarketsPSP/Deck Expo Keynote Moderator Bruce Porter

Moderator Bruce Porter

“The supply has normalized, and oil prices are coming down,” and “consumer balance sheets are the best they have been in decades,” Jackson said.

In addition, homeowners still are willing to spend to create their dream backyards. “People are traveling but not as much to Europe, so we see the outdoor living trend continuing,” Jackson said.

“We are competing against vacations and cruise ships,” Tarvin added. “But we are very, very resilient.”

“We really have seen a resilient consumer,” Roetken said. “Pool builders across the country tell us they continue to sell out, and high-end consumers are really committed to their purchases.”

Roetken added that his company thinks there is pent-up demand for remodeling projects. “We think remodeling is primed for expansion in 2023.”

Nevertheless, while there are “a lot of opportunities,” Tarvin and several panelists said that inflation still is impacting lower-end buyers.

Technology boosting sales

Stephen Greathouse/Informa Markets2022 PSP/Deck Expo Keynote Panel

Panelist Rick Roetken

The panelists said that technology also is boosting the outdoor living category.

“We are looking at self-maintenance and self-cleaning hot tubs,” Jackson said. “We think [these technologies] will bring consumers into the market.”

Roetken said while connectivity and automation have been a part of the pool and spa industries for some time, they now are “dramatically changing the outdoor space” in terms of water, lighting and other features.

 

Labor market remains tight

Stephen Greathouse/Informa Markets2022 PSP/Deck Expo Keynote Panel

Panelist David Jackson

Jackson said it’s going to be “a super-tight labor market” for years to come, and that employers can’t take their people for granted.

“They need to know they can be heard,” McDermott said, adding they also need to know they can grow with your organization.

“We need the young people coming up in industry,” Jackson said. “If we can help them avoid mistakes and stay in the industry. Being a mentor or having a mentor is better than [reading] any book.” 

On that note, McDermott said that Heritage hires from college campuses each year and pairs each new hire with a mentor for 12 to 18 months until the employee is ready for their next challenge.

Roetken also said that the industry needs to invest more in the development of the skilled trades.

2023 and beyond

Stephen Greathouse/Informa Markets2022 PSP/Deck Expo Keynote Panel

Porter, Tarvin, McDermott, Arani, Jackson, Roetken

Looking ahead, builders, installers and service professionals should consider what new services they can add to their offerings.

Also, they should be aggressively seeking new business. “Go back to customers who have terminated contract. … Look internally for leads and externally for leads,” McDermott said.

And think about additional ways to market your business. “I see so many trucks that don’t have a logo on it [and employees] who don’t wear branded apparel,” he said.

Tarvin concluded by saying, “The last couple years we haven’t had to hustle.” But that won’t work in 2023. “Stay hungry. … You have to get out there and hustle.”

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